Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Defying the Crowd: Cultivating Creativity in a Culture of Conformity

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Defying the Crowd: Cultivating Creativity in a Culture of Conformity

Article excerpt

ROBERT J. STERNBERG AND TODD I. LUBART: Defying the Crowd: Cultivating Creativity in a Culture of Conformity. New York, The Free Press, 1995, ix + 326 pp. $23.00.

Two key words in this book's title anchor a major problem and dilemma faced by society and examined by the authors: the dialectical balance between conformity and creativity. It stands to reason that no society can exist and function without a substantial amount of conformity of its members with that society's non-genetic inheritance, i.e., its culture. Culture, an element that is constantly shaped by man, must be shared, taught, learned, and passed on to the next generation. And yet, as the authors rightfully argue, the process of cultural transmission or socialization is one that tends to be conservative and stifles the process of individual innovation, discovery or creativity that is fundamental to human progress. What then are, at the personal and psychological level, the elements that foster, promote, encourage creativity, and conversely what are those elements (like a rigid education) that hinder and sometimes stifle the potential creativity found in almost all human beings?

This is the task that Robert J. Sternberg, the IBM Professor of Psychology and Education at Yale, and his co-author Todd Lubart, presently at the Universite Rene Descartes in Paris, set out to explore in this interesting, and sometimes inspirational volume. Inspirational in that the authors maintain that creativity, like intelligence, . . . "is something that everyone possesses in some amount" (vii). The question then is how to provide conditions that will foster creativity. The major metaphor they use to describe what makes people creative is derived from the field of investment, i.e., to "buy low and sell high," to come up with ideas that the "crowd" will reject at first but then will adopt, and buy at a higher price. They list what they think are the six essential resources for creativity (intelligence, knowledge, thinking styles, personality, motivation, and environment) and they review a series of studies (many of them conducted by the authors themselves), and provide cases as illustrations, for the assumption that people are not born creative, but rather that creativity can be developed. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.